Fastest Growing Cellphone Market - INDIA

Cellphone is bringing economic clout and profit to poor laborers in India

For less than a penny a minute -- the world's cheapest cellphone call rates -- farmers in remote areas can check prices for their produce. They call around to local markets to find the best deal. They also track global trends using cellphone-based Internet services that show the price of pumpkins or bananas in London or Chicago.
By Kevin Sullivan

Short Story:
Babu Rajan pointed off the starboard bow and shouted: "There! There!" In choppy, gray seas four miles from shore near India's tropical southern tip, Rajan spotted the tinselly sparkle of a school of sardines. He ordered his three dozen crewmen to quickly drop their five-ton net overboard.

Within five minutes, the cellphone hanging around his neck rang.
"Hallo!" he shouted, struggling to hear over the big diesel engines of his 74-foot boat, Andavan. "Medium sized! Medium sized!" he said, estimating the haul for a wholesale agent calling from port, who had heard by cellphone from other skippers that Rajan had just set his nets.

Minutes later Rajan's phone rang again -another agent at a different port.

"When I have a big catch, the phone rings 60 or 70 times before I get to port," he said.

The cellphone is bringing new economic clout, profit and productivity to Rajan and millions of other poor laborers in India, the world's fastest-growing cellphone market.

At the beginning of 2000, India had 1.6 million cellphone subscribers; today there are 125 million -- three times the number of land lines in the country. With 6 million new cellphone subscribers each month, industry analysts predict that in four years nearly half of India's 1.1 billion people will be connected by cellphone.

That explosive growth has meant greater access to markets, more information about prices and new customers for tens of millions of Indian farmers and fishermen.

A convenience taken for granted in wealthy nations, the cellphone is putting cash in the pockets of people for whom a dollar is a good day's wage. And it has made market-savvy entrepreneurs out of sheepherders, rickshaw drivers and even the acrobatic men who shinny up palm trees to harvest coconuts here in Kerala state.

"This has changed the entire dynamics of communications and how they organize their lives," said C.K. Prahalad, an India-born business professor at the University of Michigan who has written extensively about how commerce -- and cellphones -- are used to combat poverty.

"One element of poverty is the lack of information," Prahalad said. "The cellphone gives poor people as much information as the middleman."

Comments

tpraja said…
Have you seen the new India search engine www.ByIndia.com they added all the cool features of popular products like MySpace, YouTube, Ebay, Craigslist, etc. all for free to use and specifically for India. Anyone else try this yet?

ByIndia.com First to Blend Search, Social Network, Video Sharing and Auctions Into One Seamless Product for Indian Internet Users.

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